Birds flyin high, you know how I feel

I used to be a little obsessed with shells—not because they are particularly beautiful, unique, or so fragile they seem precious (though they are all of those things)—but because of this:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

That’s the final stanza from “The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. The first four stanzas give a little natural history about the nautilus (shell pictured above); in the final stanza, Holmes makes his point: the soul is to keep growing, to keep improving itself, and only by self-improvement can we transcend (see what I did there? transcendentalist/transcend. Yes, I’m very funny) this mortal coil of trouble and strife. I’m quite sure I’m missing major elements in that poem—I’ve never really done a study of it, just liked it. Anyway, that’s why I was obsessed with shells. I have several jars of shells that I’ve collected from various beaches; I have jewelry made of shells and jewelry with miniature replicas of shells; I thought for a (long) while about getting a spiral shell tattoo. I just thought that idea was beautiful—that incessant striving to be, well, better. (At the moment, that just seems exhausting. Sometimes you need to stare at the waves on the beach, not contemplate the growing soul via the shells underfoot. Or maybe that’s just me.)

Lately I’ve been feeling the same way about birds. Not because birds are beautiful (though I do enjoy watching the occasional soaring flock), not because I want one as a pet (good god, do you know how long those things live?), but because of this song:

Nina Simone, “Feeling Good”

I’m a little obsessed with this song right now. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, for me…

And like my (somewhat illogical) desire to cement my desire for continued efforts toward personal perfection (nothing like high aspirations, eh?) with the whole shell-motif, I’m finding myself drawn to birds as a visual reminder of the birds flyin high…and the “new day” concept that I’m trying to focus on. On which I’m trying to focus. Whatever.

Here are a few bird-y things that have recently caught my eye:

(Print available here, on Etsy)

(Bird stencils available here, on Etsy. Where you get the beautiful ceiling, or the balls to muck about with stencils on something that gorgeous, dunno.)

And a few more, for funsies. Click on the image to link to source.

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